Inside look

stroke Unit nslij
We’re now in the Stroke Unit. Phil has successfully sat up in a chair, walked and negotiated some stairs. He tripped up some on the stairs but instinctively grabbed for the rail, which is what they look for–that you know how to help yourself.

Today he has another procedure. They’ll be putting him under to perform a transesophogial echocardiogram–they go inside through the esophagus to get a better look at the heart to see if there are any clots. Sedation always has its risks and anything with an airway always puts people on high alert.

Last night the kids went off with Phil’s parents, so I could focus and rest. Less driving, less explaining. Alone in our room, I finally had the chance to wheel through my email, only a little. Then to see all the texts, from unknown phone numbers, from Texas, Florida, California, and New York. Texts from Phil’s surgeon in Texas. People I worked with in LA. I haven’t made a dent in the Facebook comments, but a quick scroll made me feel overwhelming gratitude. An email from their school principal with an offer to babysit! The mothers of my Girl Scout troop offering to bring meals. We truly feel so loved.

When this happened on Monday I was in shock and in “get it done” mode. Warrior position. It’s not that I couldn’t cry if I felt it, it’s that I had no connection to any feelings. They were blocked by a barrier of fight, and fear I’m certain. When I was in that waiting room with my father, I turned to him and said of my bonus-sisters, “Erica and Amanda are crying hysterically when they call me. I haven’t cried.”

“When you’re home alone tonight you will,” he said. But I didn’t. And I wondered if that meant something, if I didn’t love him enough, that he deserved someone who was hysterical. I still wonder.

Last night, after texting with my friend Vanita, I broke down, awash in gratitude, letting go of some of the could’ve beens. Also feeling very deep gratitude, I whaled out, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” To the universe, to any divine energy, to spirits who might have played a part.

Even now, watching him sleep before this procedure, I am dotting at my eyes with a dry washcloth, finally feeling. It has caught up to me, all of it, but most of all the fear.

I am afraid of his release home, as his caregiver, watching for signs of depression, any slight headache. I am afraid to let him drive with the kids in the car. I am afraid of a fall or a bad bruise. I am afraid to sleep beside him and to find something, or not find something, that’s wrong.

I told him that he’s not allowed to leave without first getting a thorough sponge bath from a hot nurse.



  1. Hi Stephanie,

    Long time since I posted. Don’t delve to deep and try to analyse your feelings or reactions right now. You went into auto pilot and that’s normal. Wishing you both a healthy recovery from this… I guess it puts everything into perspective. X

  2. It’s very important to take care of yourself during this time too. Don’t get too exhausted. Keep eating. Stay hydrated. Breathe. It is incredibly stressful, I know, but you are a strong, fabulous woman. Courage and strength from here – as always.

    1. Author

      Thank you. These messages are a great reminder. I’m sitting in the cafeteria by myself right now. I thought Phil would be out of his procedure by now, but he’s not. I just checked, calling the stroke unit. That’s unnerving, too. Like, I want to hear, “He’s out and in recovery.” Which might be the case. He went in at 3:30pm today.

  3. I just read these updates, keeping you and your family in our thoughts and sending you love and strength. When I face stressful emergencies (admittedly far less stressful than this), I just try to focus living “5 minutes at a time” do whatever needs to be done in the present moment for yourself and your family. Sending you a hug from a longtime reader in Colorado. XOXO

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